NewThing Network and the Institute for Community co-sponsored this one of a kind event for designed to create partnerships between church leaders and real estate developer – Creating Genuine Community. This forum had people from all over the country including some of my partners: Bruno Bottarelli, Nick Ryan, Perry Bigelow (Professional Builder Magazine “Builder of the Year“) and Darren Sloniger. The premise of the Forum is that genuine community is both place-based and Christ-centered. With that as a foundation we invited real estate developers and church leaders together for this one of a kind conversation. A few things that I took away from this experience:
- Community is not intrinsically good. Community has the potential to be very good, but community also has the potential to be evil. I remember when we had Carl George consult with us several years ago regarding the birth of the IFC and he said, “If you do this you need a powerful moral influence. There is the potential for great good; but there is also the potential for ‘all the witches to come out’…evil!” So, how do you ensure that your community building efforts are going to be for great good? This is the question that every real estate developer who is interested in creating community should struggle through. It was Peter Drucker who said, “There are only two groups in the world that are changing people for the better; one is churches and the other is 12-step groups”.
- Real estate developers interested in creating genuine community need a church. Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone explains how churches are the best source of social capital, “Faith communities in which people worship together are arguably the single most important repository of social capital in America… Half of all associations memberships in America are church related. Half of all personal philanthropy is religious in character. Half of all volunteering occurs in a religious context… So how involved we are in religion today matters a lot for America’s social capital.”
There was a great energy in the room and a terrific conversations about how to create community that is both Christ-centered and place-based. It will be fun to read the reviews and see where we take this next!